BY ALICIA DONOVAN - GAZETTE COLUMNIST
The joy and wonder of being 6 and 7 years old. There are so many new discoveries. The world is at your not-so-tiny feet ready to be explored. There are so many things that need to get done when you are that age. My young boys are so determined when it comes to navigating the great outdoors and beyond. The list of things that must get done seems life and death to them. They have a look of desperation in their eyes when I throw out the five-minute warning and tell them it’s time for dinner.
They complain, whine and ignore my requests.
They don’t fully understand that things can wait. It will all be there tomorrow. But when I look at them all sweet and innocent, pleading with me for 10 more minutes, I realize this is important to them.
I agree and say, “Yes that bear trap needs to be reconfigured. We HAVE to catch him tonight!”
I realize the alien conquest ship needs a new axel.
I suggest the train track needs a new turn down by the south station.
The green machine needs to be driven just one more time before the snow falls.
The army tank needs to destroy one last thing.
The game of flashlight tag needs one last round.
The robber still needs to get caught.
The Lego train needs one more piece added.
The lightsaber skill still needs to be perfected.
The Hot Wheels race has five more laps that need to be completed.
The hot fudge sundae still needs more fudge.
There is one more rock that needs to be skipped.
The blanket fort needs one more sheet.
The monster truck needs to crush just one more car.
The battleship needs to be sunk.
And while I sometimes sigh a little too loudly at all of their requests, I think back to my own childhood. All of my cherished memories mirror the things they are doing. No, I wasn’t crushing things with monster trucks, but I was enjoying the outdoors, swinging until dark, hiding from the wicked witch, finding lost treasure with my brother and dreaming of a land filled with rainbows and unicorns. I want my boys to have the same experiences I did. The freedom of being carefree and letting their imaginations run wild.
The other day I looked outside and saw my son talking nonstop. I knew we didn’t have other kids over. I knew his brother was at a friend’s house. I freaked out and immediately came to the conclusion that there was a stranger in our yard. Who could it be? I got my Mama Bear on and ran out to fight off the intruder. To my surprise, no one else was there. He was alone.
I asked “Who are you talking to?”
“Mom! Watch out there are pirates around,” he said.
Ahhh. Sure, pirates. “I’ll get them matey!” I whispered.
He smirked and handed me a sword.
It didn’t take me long to learn that in between the homework, the practices, the daily duties of the world, I need to carve out time for them to be JUST boys. I have learned to play along with their innocent demands and try to nurture their need to conquer the alien world.
No, we aren’t the Swiss Family Robinson crew. We still have to limit screen time and stick to our schedules. But at least I know that when it comes to tackling important issues of the day like Nerf gun fights and rock collecting, they are creating cherished childhood memories. And I am a better mom for letting them act their age.